Men’s Health and the Howard University Chronic Kidney Disease Program is using the platform to encourage African American men in Washington, D.C. to get tested for kidney disease. According to the American Kidney Fund, the Nation’s Capital has the highest prevalence of kidney disease in the U.S., with African American men being three times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) as whites.
Historically, there has been a lack of health education, advocacy and resources for people in low income communities where kidney disease is the most prevalent. In D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8, kidney disease increases significantly due to those communities having the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes in the city, which is responsible for nearly half of all cases of kidney failure.
“There is a direct correlation between high rates of chronic kidney disease and communities that do not have access to care and health resources,” says Dr. Constance Mere, medical director of the Howard University Chronic Kidney Disease Program. “Men’s Health Month provides an excellent platform for men to start a dialogue with experts, ask questions about their health, uncover options and ultimately get tested.”
The stakes are high regarding men and their health. Nearly half of African American men in the U.S. have at least one risk factor for developing kidney failure. These factors include diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Dr. Mere mentions that community leaders from city government, healthcare institutions, schools and churches must work together to address disparities by promoting health education, better access to care and improving social conditions in order to stem the pipeline of African Americans who develop chronic kidney disease.
“Men’s Health Month is a call to action for men to become more aware of their health. We encourage them to make routine visits to their doctor, check their blood pressure and blood sugar levels, urine protein and kidney function,” says Dr. Mere. “Having access to care and knowing what your options are may improve your health outcomes.”
If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, there are a multitude of health services and treatment options available. The Howard University Chronic Kidney Disease Program focuses on driving awareness of kidney disease, including risk factors, prevention strategies, as well as treatment options such as hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplant.